Old School Defense Beats Princeton Offense. The “Princeton” offense considered the archetype motion offence developed by Pete Carril, former Princeton Head Coach, is tough to defend. Tough. but not impossible.
We could discuss the evolution of offense from the George Mikan, big man/inside game to the Steph Curry, small man game but the answer is still the same. Defense. Somewhere between the two eras defense became a help and recover kind of affair. A sort of zone defense with players covering areas rather than individual players. Not quite a zone defense but a strange cousin. It became two passes away, two steps off. The rules have changed greatly and have eliminated the team thug, the guy that was the enforcer. That’s a good thing, but teams have also lost good “defenders” and “stoppers”. The stopper was the guy that could guard anyone. Certainly he was the guy who would work the hardest at it and had the best success. Good defenders are more than guys that can recover quickly or make an occasional “play”. Good defenders are more than counter punchers. They are also anticipators that realize that offense is triggered by great defense. Even that’s not Old School Defense.
Old School Defense was and is a pure extension of basketball. OSD was a quick physical match up. It was ,“I got the guy in the red shirt”. Your reason to exist was to shut down the guy in the red shirt. Most times your pick up was half court but for the most serious games, defense was full court. Your job was to not let the guy in the red shirt touch the ball. No rebounds, no inbounds passes, no passes from teammates and, if he got the ball, no uncontested shots or rebounds. All game, no lapses.
If you man scored more than a couple times, because games were generally scored 11 baskets, you were “relieved”. Not in the sense you were given a reprieve but that you failed and that a bigger better faster more suitable player had to cover your man because you failed. The implication was you had jeopardized your team’s chances to win. The immediate impact was, should your team lose, you probably weren’t going to get chosen by the guy who had next. The long range impact was your status fell and you were less likely to get chosen for the better games with the older guys when it was a little cooler and before everyone headed home for dinner.
You learned this stuff on the playgrounds and in the schoolyards in NYC long before you got to organized ball. OSD wasn’t talking trash or playing dirty. Don’t believe the hype. OSD was I’m with you every play and my job is to shut you down. My game, my basketball future, even if I don’t get out of the park, depends on it.
People have said that motion offense is an evolution of the championship Celtic and Knick offenses. The Celtic offense where they scored and the ball never touched the floor and the Knick offense where Bill Bradley ran allegedly as much as 5 miles a game to get open and the ball snapped from one cutting or curling player to another. Both of those offenses were triggered by OSD. The Celtic fast break was triggered by Bill Russell’s ability to make a block and keep the ball in bounds and his teammates being able to deflect and recover. The Knicks defense, keyed by Walt Frazier and anchored by Willis Reed, could stop and take the ball from anyone. They played really hard, every play, without being bullies.
The Triangle offense authored and used to championship effectiveness was developed by Phil Jackson, a championship Knick who played in the East Coast Conference against the Celtics. That’s more than coincidence. The backbone of the Triangle is great defense. Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the best defenders to ever play basketball. OSD is about having the guts and grit to play excellent defense on every play. It’s like looking at every quarter like a schoolyard game to 11. Your job is to not let them get there. It starts with shutting your man down. That’s Old School Defense.
How Do You Defeat A Motion Offense?
Stay close enough to your man to touch him
Eliminate passing lanes
Anticipate and stay with backdoor cuts
Stay with your man on picks
Stay with the screener when he rolls
Contest every shot
Don’t allow ball possession
Box out AND rebound every play
Identify picks and shots
And, did I mention, it’s expected you bring an “A” offensive game.